Snow settling on the forest floor

Get active in the festive forest

The countdown to Christmas is on. With another year looming over the treetops, many of us will be faced with hectic schedules and increased stresses. Our routines risk falling by the wayside as staying active moves further down the priority list.

Fancy dodging the mayhem and getting that heart racing in a positive way? Forests are a great place to escape the festive noise and redress the balance. Being active outdoors in a natural environment is scientifically proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and strengthen the immune system. Here are six activities that fit the bill.

Frosty dog walking

1. Get your steps in

Those feet are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do.  Did you know that Nordic walking burns up to 46% more calories than regular walking and uses all your major muscles? Head to your local forest and stroll through the last few months of the season in style. Simply enjoy the peace and tranquillity on offer.  

Top tip for advanced walkers: Bring a pair of binoculars to spot winter wildlife along the way. Robins, woodlarks and owls will be cheering you on to reach that step count.  

2. Dust off the bike

Do wheels give you the feels? Get back into cycling and choose the forest as your playground this Christmas. From winding family-friendly trails for beginners to thrilling slopes for experienced mountain bikers, there’s something for everyone. Be inspired to try something new before the New Year too with e-bikes.

Top tip for advanced riders: Escape the Christmas chaos and test your skills with our red and black trails, or explore our range of orange bike parks.

Mountain biker on forest trail
Andy Lloyd
Woman running on forest path

3. Start running

Stopwatch at the ready. Hitting the forest trails and running through nature beats pounding pavements any day. Blow away the cobwebs and go for a run on one of our waymarked trails. Ditch the headphones and let the soundtrack of the forest motivate you to keep moving.

Top tip for advanced runners: Progress through the variety of different distances and grades, and you’ll be breezing through 10k routes in no time.    

4. Meet the Gruffalo

Pass on your love of adventure to the little ones by taking them to our Gruffalo Spotters trails. Pick up an activity pack, pop on your paws, and interact with your favourite characters from Julia Donaldson’s classic story.

Top tip for Gruffalo fans: Simply charge your phone to the full and download the app before your forest visit. Endless hours of Gruffalo fun await you!

Family using Gruffalo Spotters trail
Two horse riders in high vis and helmets on a forest path
Photo credit: The British Horse Society

5. Travel on horseback

Saddle up and enjoy a peaceful horse ride through the forest. From meandering valleys and mature woods to shady streams and beautiful open heathland, our forests offer some fantastic riding opportunities.

Top tip for advanced riders: Keep your eyes peeled for the fantastic trees and wildlife that surround you. Up on horseback, you'll have a great vantage point to view undiscovered wildlife spots! 

6. Try forest bathing

No snorkel needed. Instead of bathing in water, try bathing in the senses of the forest during the festive season. Dive into the Japanese relaxation practice of shinrin yoku. This mindful way to get active is the perfect way to de-stress and reconnect with nature.

Top tip for connecting with forests: Share your passion with others with our forest bathing activity sheets. Taking time to encourage children to use mindfulness is beneficial for their health and wellbeing too.

Woman walking in frosty winter forest

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Keep your heart rate up

Running on forest trail
02 November 2021
It's time to get off the treadmill and into the forest!
Frosty crosscliff at Dalby forest taken by Tony Bartholomew
10 October 2019
Leading psychiatrists and the largest provider of outdoor recreation in England are urging people to continue venturing outdoors this autumn and winter to improve their mental health.
Women walking in the woods
02 November 2021
Lockdowns and essential restrictions, as well as worries about jobs and finances, have left the nation feeling stressed and anxious. As we move into a new year there is hope that life can get back to some kind of normality, but times are still hard and how exactly can spending time in forests help?
Runner on forest trail
17 January 2020
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